The 12 Remarkable Google Changes of 2013

by Amanda DiSilvestro December 12th, 2013 

As usual, Google made some changes over this last year. To be more specific, Google made a lot of changes over this last year. Many of these changes didnt receive the best feedback from users, but as usual once again, Google had the last say and stuck with what they changed regardless of the negative feedback. In the end we got used to most of the changes, but its still fun to look back at the last year and see some of the biggest and most influential Google changes of 2013, especially as we enter into what will no doubt be another year full of change.

Top 12 Changes We Saw From Google in 2013

  1. Google Penguin 2.0 update goes live on May 22. About 2-3% of English queries were affected by the update, which specifically targeted black hat webspam. According to Matt Cutts, head of Googles webspam team, this update had a bigger impact on spam than some of the past Penguin updates weve seen.
  2. Google announces in-depth articles on August 6. Google felt that there were certain topics that needed more than just a quick answer"stem cell research, love, etc. They therefore decided to create a section on a SERP that offered only in-depth results.
  3. Google comes out with the first Hummingbird update in 12 years on August 20. The Hummingbird update is essentially a revamp of the entire algorithm as opposed to just bits and pieces of it. The idea is that the update will help cater to the way that people now search, such as typing in queries that seem more like a conversation.
  4. Google encrypts search data. On September 23 Google made the announcement that all search data would be encrypted except for clicks on ads, which will not be encrypted. This left many confused as to how they would gather data to properly optimize pages. In the end, small businesses started looking to data involving clicks as well as data coming from other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo.
  5. Google Keyword Planner replaced the old Keyword Tool in September. The new Planner tool combined the functionality of the Keyword Tool with the Traffic Estimator so it would be easier to plan a campaign. With the new tool users saw different data columns including Ad share, Google Search Network, and Local Search Trends.
  6. Google launches Penguin 2.1 update on October 4. This was a data update as opposed to a change in the algorithm, but it did hit some Webmasters hard (despite the fact that it was only labeled a moderate update overall).
  7. Google enables review extensions on October 14 to help AdWords advertisers feature reviews right there on a SERP. Although advertisers can only feature a small review (67 characters to be exact), the idea is that Google users will get a better idea about what authoritative sources are saying about a particular company.
  8. Google Media Tools is launched October 21. Google Media Tools is a new hub for journalists. The tool will help give journalists all the information they may need from Google about a particular news story"Google trends, Google Analytics, Google Maps, etc. Google also included a number where they can be reached if a news story is done about Google.
  9. iGoogle shuts down on November 1. Google explained that iGoogle was launched in 2005 and is no longer necessary because of modern apps that can run on platforms like Chrome and Android.
  10. Google+ integrates with YouTube. Google+ integrated with YouTube on November 7, which left a lot of people up in arms. If you want to comment on a YouTube video, you now need to have your Google+ profile synced up with your YouTube account. This will allow for the most relevant comments (according to Google+) to surface to the top as well as let video owners better moderate YouTube comments.
  11. Google introduces Shared Endorsements on November 11. Google made it clear you dont have to opt-in to the new feature, but it was a good view into how the future of Google might look. Shared Endorsements bring up items/topics you were searching for before and then pulls up a review that someone in your Google+ circles might have written in the past.
  12. Google updates PageRank for the first time in 10 months on December 6. The change caused a lot of concern here because people thought that PageRank was dying (in keeping with normal trends, there would have been 2 PageRank updates within the 10 months). Most people saw a negative impact as opposed to positive.

The list above focuses on some of the top changes we saw this year, but there are certainly more to be added. If there was a change that really impacted your business, let us know what that change was, how it affected you, and what you did to bounce back.

Doodle by Google

Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for, one of the leading SEO companies in the United States.

Higher Visibility blog

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14 Responses to “The 12 Remarkable Google Changes of 2013”

  1. […] The 12 Remarkable Google Changes of 2013, Search Engine People […]

  2. Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for the wonderful insightful information for the 12 changes of Google in 2013. I will keep this tips in mind and follow by them.

  3. How about local search? Organic search results show on the same page with Google local listings, they used to be combined.

  4. Amanda, thanks a lot for sharing these updates with us! I wonder what the year 2014 holds for us in the terms of Google changes.

    Kind regards, Anthony

  5. Bruce Jones says:

    Another hot one for 2013 is Google 360 Virtual Tours for businesses.

  6. Great, easy to digest round up Amanda. I thought the merge with YouTube/Google+ etc was pretty annoying having to link accounts and then fiddle around with everything.

    Added this to my best 20 articles post that I'm doing tomorrow :)

    – Stuart

  7. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for the round up Amanda, and i agreed with Stuart that the Google +/YouTube merger was the most annoying

    • Thanks for commenting everyone! I wrote about Google+ and YouTube specifically on both our blog (Higher Visibility) as well as on Moz so definitely check those out! I don't think we're the only ones who found that annoying!

  8. Jim says:

    There's still no replacement for iGoogle, none decent anyway.
    Now they've done something retarded with Google Maps… why do they always assume that because it's new that it's better? Why do they assume that because they like something that everyone will think it's the best thing EVAR?

    I'm about to trade my android for a Windoze phone, and my search engine over to Bing.
    The integrations were bad enough, but now freaking G+ seems to be integrated into my maps for some awful reason… it's the last straw… I stopped using G+ because each new change made it less usable for me… time to stop using the rest I guess

    • I definitely don't think you're the only one who feels that way. I'm starting to get used to everything being connected so I don't hate it, but at times it does really bug me. If everything is becoming unusable for you, definitely make the switch to Bing! I've never positioned against that and I'm not going to now–it's better in many ways. Good luck!

    • Ruud Hein says:

      @Jim Those type of changes can definitely be very frustrating. If you every decide to switch to Bing, update us on how things worked out for you?